A moment away (A glimpse of the divine, Part II)

Originally posted on 6/22/2006

Wow, what a last couple of weeks it has been. Up and down, and up again.

As many of you probably already know, it started a few weeks ago with an incident that, while time has lessened the initial strain, will be indelibly etched in our memories for years to come. You can read about it over at my myspace page, but for those of you who do not know, or are not on my friends list there, my family and I (including the boys) saw a man get shot. We were, instantaneously, thrust into a situation above and beyond our control. The way the situation unfolded from there is a direct result of God’s protection over us, and His guidance in our lives. Who knows how it COULD have turned out. In addition (and again, because of God), not only did my boys have the presence of mind to do about the best and only thing they could do at the time, but they show very few long-standing effects of witnessing something so brutal. I pray they never experience it again in their lives.

Last week, our 3rd son was welcomed into the world. It was a rocky road, but not nearly as rocky as it could have been. I cannot say that my faith wasn’t shaken, that there weren’t times when I wanted to ‘give up’, or that I really didn’t know what I would do had the situation turned for the worst. It did not, however. At that crucial moment, in a time when it was the LAST thing I wanted to do, I prayed. I gave Alex over to God. And God moved. He is home with us, and he is well. I am learning all over again what an immense joy it is to be a father to a newborn. I love every minute of it, and I can’t wait to watch him grow.

Yesterday, I got to put “A glimpse of the divine” into action. As I made a run to the store for Theresa (apparently even women who’ve just had a child still get cravings…), I saw a woman at the intersection. We’ve all seen her before. Pacing the corner, sign in hand. “PLEASE HELP-I HAVE KIDS. THANK YOU, GOD BLESS YOU”. My first reaction was the same as it is most times, and probably is for most of us-“Yeah, I bet. What do you need it for? Booze, drugs, or just because you’re freeloading?”. Then the Lord spoke to my spirit.

“Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done unto Me.”

Ouch. Ok God, you’ve got my attention. Then my mind thought back to one day, long ago, when I was spending time with a pastor. We ran into a person in a similar situation, and the pastor offered to get the man groceries. So we went on a grocery run for the man. This time, I thought, I will do something different. What would it take for me to get her a few things, need them or not? Very little. A few bucks? I can do that. So while I shopped for my wife’s very specific requests (remember, she “just got sawed open a week ago”), I shopped for that woman and her family. I thought maybe, just maybe, if I could give her and her family a meal, even if just for tonight, who knows what that might accomplish. So I got her some bread, deli-style turkey, a 2 liter of Coke, and some Oreo cookies. Maybe not the most nutritious meal, but hey, if she does have kids, the Oreo’s alone would bring a smile. I proceeded to check out, bagged my own groceries separate from hers, and headed out. I pulled up to the intersection, and opened my window. “Here ya go” I said. She walked up, grabbed the bag, mumbled something indecipherable, and kept pacing. “God bless you” I told her. Then I headed home.

As I drove, I still wondered about her. Was she drunk? Was she strung out? Or was something else going on? Again, the Lord spoke to me. “It doesn’t matter. You did what I told you to do. Whether or not she is out there for dishonest reasons is of no consequence. That is not your concern.”

I continued to think about what all had transpired over that ‘run to the store’. Then I remembered something I read by John Fischer a year or so ago. A moment in time, ONE moment, could be the difference between success and failure; between happiness and despair; between salvation and damnation. We have so much more of an impact on that than we realize. See, it didn’t matter WHY she was out there. What mattered was that she was out there. We are not the judge of why. But if she was out there out of need, true need, then maybe that one simple act could make a difference. Maybe one act of kindness could reaffirm to her that the world is not all self-serving and selfish. That there are people in the world, full of Christ’s love, who fall, fail miserably, but still try to do what is right, regardless of the price, and without reciprocation. I wish that I thought like this more often. I am working on it. Unfortunately though, it is a ‘sometimes’ thought, and not a way of life. I want it to be a way of life. And something like this is not commendable. Upon telling my wife about the situation that unfolded, she said, “That was wonderful of you to do”. It shouldn’t be anything wonderful. It should be something incredibly ordinary. It should be common. I pray that it will be someday.

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